oOoOO - Without Your Love

An album that requires you to invest all your time and emotion in it.

Label: Nihjgt Feelings

Rating: 7

‘Without Your Love’, the debut from San Francisco producer Chris Dexter, is an album that requires all your time and emotion. There are no quick fixes; you need to give yourself over to oOoOO’s distinct world.

Dexter’s sound is otherworldly and distinctly atmospheric; almost unmusical. That doesn’t mean to say it can’t be affecting and compelling though. He is a master at playing with texture and tone, speed and space. Opener ‘Sirens / Stay Here’ is a perfect example of how he measures sound and moulds it, almost imperceptibly, into something quite beautiful. It’s built around a lurching desperately slow hip hop beat, causing a suffocating, eerie and chilling effect. Bass claps ring echo and echo allusively, and the sweet vocals from singer M.L. provide some succour amidst the enveloping entropy. You don’t quite notice it happening but you’re drawn in. Enraptured and enthralled.

‘Without Your Love’ progresses the themes and sound established on Dexter’s previous EPs as oOoOO. It’s a sound that has seen him pigeonholed under the label ‘Witch House’. While his music is certainly sinister at times there’s more to this than an arbitrary label. The full album reveals Dexter to be a rich sonic composer and manipulator of sound.

Songs like ‘Mouchette’ named after a French art house film, take on graceful and mysterious, filmic proportions. The sound is embellished with all manner of frosty overarching synthesisers for added effect. At times, the feeling is incredibly haunting, as on the chilling ‘Crossed Wires’ with its backwards vocal chanting effect. Elsewhere though, the album reveals a greater scope than before. ‘The South’ is a huge sounding hip-hop instrumental groove that is crying out for a rapper to rhyme over it. Instead, it makes for a diverting interlude.

Final track ‘Across A Sea’ is perhaps the best expression yet of the wondrous qualities present in Dexter’s music. It is a quite beautiful piano waltz that is pared down and warped into something singular and bewitching. It truly is music that can take you to a higher musical plane.

There’s no doubt that ‘Without Your Love’ is a difficult listen. You can be left feeling drained and exhausted after listening. What is clear, though, that if you give yourself over to it it is incredibly rewarding.